John Cooper

Anonymous Living Liver Donor

It takes a great deal of courage to risk one’s own health undergoing surgery and donating an organ to a loved one. But the courage to face those same risks while donating to a total stranger – that kind of altruism is something few people can ever understand.
An active person, happily married with two lovely daughters and enjoying enviable health in his late 50’s, John Cooper made that choice.
Doctors are still trying to understand the altruism of anonymous living donors – some even refuse to perform the surgery, citing it as a breach of the Hippocratic Oath. But at Toronto General Hospital, doctors have assessed the ethics and risks and have transformed the hospital into the leading centre in North America for this surgery.
On a cold winter morning, John Cooper put on a hospital gown, held his wife’s hand and whispered "I love you” for what may have been the last time as doctors wheeled him into the operating room at Toronto General Hospital. Down the hall, a patient John would never know did the same. After more than six hours of carefully extracting a portion of John’s liver from a labyrinth of veins, arteries and bile ducts, the vital organ was passed to another surgical team and a stranger was given a second chance at a healthy life.
Six weeks after his surgery, John was back to his usual routines, enjoying nightly walks with his wife and spending time with his daughters at home. Elsewhere in Ontario, the recipient of Mr. Cooper’s liver was also on their road to recovery.
When asked why he chose to undergo a surgery that claims five out of every 1,000 lives, he answers, "There was no reason not to.”